By hook or by Cook
Stephen Cook's 104 in South Africa's second innings in the third Test against Australia in Adelaide was more than six hours of batting that was almost as difficult to watch as it must have been to play.Cook trod the crease like a tortured soul, facing 240 balls and hitting just eight fours to score 29 more runs than he did in his other four innings in the series."He's a fighter; I'm proud of the character he showed," South African captain Faf du Plessis said."It's hardest when you're under pressure to score a big innings like that."South Africa lost the third Test by seven wickets yesterday but they had already won the series with victories in Perth and Hobart. Which, for Cook, made yesterday's result bittersweet."I've had a tough time the last couple of weeks, that's plain and obvious to say," he said."Before the series I knew things were going to be tough. I knew the Aussies had a good bowling lineup."And I got tested. By hook or by crook, I suppose - or by hook or by Cook, there's a line for you - I managed to come through it."I knew that Australia is a place where a cricketer can be made or broken."Now I'm leaving here with people perhaps better able to see that I can bat better than I have these last few weeks."For Cook, who played his 183rd first-class match in Adelaide, struggling for runs was nothing new."There have been a lot of times in my career where I've gone on streaks longer than this without scoring runs," he said."I suppose you work out how you can get back. The nice thing is that I never felt like I was playing that badly."Not that he looked like he was playing well. But looks have never mattered much to Cook."It wasn't a pretty show but I've never been a pretty cricketer," he said of his technique."I know it's not classical. I know it's a little bit ugly. I know I crab across the crease."I've heard many descriptions of it. Unfortunately, it's the one I've got and the one I've used for a long time."But it's gotten me so far - yes, I'll do little tweaks and try and make amendments - and by and large I stick with what I've got and try make it work for me."I don't think I'm ever going to jump onto the front foot like Ricky Ponting or move in and behind the ball like some other players."For me it's about getting my game-plan going and paying attention to my disciplines."